Feeds

Dolphin skin key to subaquatic speed

Flipper fights 'form drag'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Dolphin skin will be key in future designs of marine vessels, thanks to Japanese research.

Fortunately, this does not spell the end for the sea-going mammals: physicists at the Kyoto Institute of Technology have discovered how the surface of a dolphin's skin reduces drag as it swims, and the findings will help scientists to design more energy-efficient boats and submarines.

The research team wanted to find out what role the dolphin's skin played in reducing 'form drag' - the pressure of water against the skin. Dolphins have extremely soft, flaky skin which they shed every two hours. By modelling how the water flows over the flakes, and how they are eventually shed, the research team was able to conclude that the softness of the skin does reduce friction.

Professor Yoshimichi Hagiwara and colleagues also discovered that as the skin flakes off, it also helps the dolphin through the water: the flakes break up swirling vortices next to the skin that would otherwise slow the animal down.

Professor Hagiwara explains that travelling quickly through water is much more complex than travelling quickly through air. He and his team are now building simulation dolphins to replicate the 'flaking' that allows them to move so fast through water. "This research could help us build boats, ocean liners and submarines using technology based on these natural solutions," he said.

The original paper was published in the Institute of Physics journal, Journal of Turbulence. ®

Related stories

Boffins seek human chimps
Boffins isolate 'blogging gene'
Boffins grow breasts on mice

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.